On May 22, H. E. Ms. Nargiz Akif Gurbanova, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the Republic of Bulgaria, gave a reception in Sofia Hotel Balkan on the occasion of the national holiday of the country.

The Republic Day is the most important celebration for the Azerbaijanis, symbolizing an event of immense historical significance to them - the proclamation of the Azerbaijani Democratic Republic. On 28 May, exactly a century ago, the Azerbaijani National Council adopted the Declaration of Independence and thus restored statehood to a new form – that of a parliamentary democracy. It guarantees the civil and political rights of all citizens of the republic, regardless of their ethnicity, religion, social status and gender.

In her welcoming speech to the guests, H. E. Ms. Nargiz Akif Gurbanova emphasized the extreme importance of this fact and stated: "The new Republic was established in a very challenging domestic and international political environment of World War I. Though from early days the Republic faced serious challenges, its parliament and government implemented many crucial decisions. Absence of any previous experience of democratic statehood in Azerbaijan was not an obstacle for its leaders. Democratic aspirations and progressive spirit guided them and they succeeded in establishing a well-functioning democratic state and society.

All nationalities living in Azerbaijan were represented both in the government and 120 seat national Parliament that encompassed 11 factions.  Within two years of its existence, the National Parliament adopted 230 laws. Significant efforts were also made for securing international recognition of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic. The Azerbaijani delegation led by the chairman of Parliament Alimardan bey Topshubashov attended the Paris Peace Conference and succeeded in getting the de facto recognition of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic.

Regretfully, Azerbaijan Democratic Republic lived for only 23 months and ceased its existence in April 1918 following the Bolshevik intervention. Yet, its democratic ideals, values and traditions continued to live in the hearts and minds of next generations of Azerbaijanis. And that so much awaited moment became a reality on 17 November 1990. On that unforgettable day the tricolor of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic was raised in Azerbaijan again. It happened at the historic session of the Supreme Assembly of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic of Azerbaijan chaired then by our national leader Heydar Aliyev. This session declared the flag of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic as the flag of Nakhchivan. Later, on 5 February 1991 this tricolor was proclaimed as the national flag of Azerbaijan. 7 months later, the state independence of Azerbaijan was restored by adopting the Constitutional Act which declared the modern Republic of Azerbaijan as the successor of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic.

Today’s Azerbaijan under the leadership of President Ilham Aliyev is a modern, secular, and independent state proud of its history and looking into the future with great aspirations, firm on its road to developing a vibrant, multicultural society. My country continues contributing to regional economic cooperation and international peace and security, as well intercultural dialogue globally.

I am proud to note that Azerbaijan and Bulgaria enjoy excellent bilateral relations and an active political dialogue since the establishment of diplomatic relations 26 years ago. Over these years we succeeded in developing multifaceted cooperation in many areas of mutual interest. In March 2015 our relationship reached the level of strategic partnership. We appreciate Bulgaria’s unequivocal support to Azerbaijan’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of internationally recognized borders. There are great opportunities for further promotion of Azerbaijan-Bulgaria relations and we are committed to strengthening our interaction with Bulgarian friends for the benefit of our peoples."

The photos are provided by the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the Republic of Bulgaria.

Among those present at the reception were: the Vice-President of the Republic of Bulgaria Mrs. Iliana Yotova, the Minister of Energy Mrs. Temenujka Petkova, ambassadors, diplomats, officials, journalists and friends of Azerbaijan.